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There are few mountains that are as familiar to me as the Stockhorn. I grew up with a view of the striking rock head at the entrance to the Bernese Oberland. And accordingly, it is not surprising that one of my earliest hiking memories is associated with this same panoramic high-altitude hike from the Gurnigel to the Stockhorn. The classic hiking tour over the Gantrisch range inspires with a magnificent view of the Bernese mountains and meets almost all requirements. Be it as a family hike or as a sporty trail running route – these 11 beautiful kilometers of hiking trails should not be missed!
Starting point: Gurnigel watershed
While the high-altitude hike starts in the Gurnigel area, the Thurnen train station is the actual starting point of the tour. And it is precisely in this tranquil village in the middle of the Gürbetal that I grew up. From here, the post bus line 323 transports hikers to the magnificent hills of the Gantrisch nature park. The hike from the Gurnigel to the Stockhorn is for me a home game and a matter close to my heart at the same time. Because let’s be honest: isn’t this mountain backdrop that rushes past the postbus window just beautiful?
Over hill and dale to the ladder pass
After an entertaining, almost 40-minute postbus ride, we reach the Gurnigel, Wasserscheide stop. Here we get out of ourselves and follow the signpost towards Obernünenen. The path to the popular Bergbeiz is designed as a comfortable gravel path and only leads moderately uphill. So we can put the energy into admiring the panorama, which stretches from the Gürbetal to the Freiburg Pre-Alps. The last passing thunderclouds provide unbelievably great light moments this morning.
Once you have passed Alp Obernünenen, there is a short, jagged ascent to the Leiteren Pass. The mountain path meanders here in a zigzag between the mighty flanks of the Gantrisch and the Nünenflue, 220 meters in altitude up to the top of the pass. Once these have been mastered, a wonderful view opens up over the Simmental to the snow-covered three and four thousand meter peaks. And lo and behold: the destination of our tour today – the Stockhorn – can also already be seen.
Promising high-altitude hike over the Stockhorn chain
After this sporty start, the fillet of the high-altitude hike awaits us. The narrow mountain path winds its way up and down the Gantrisch chain to Walalp. And while the destination on the Leiterenpass seemed unexpectedly close, in the next 1.5 hours, which we follow the high-altitude hiking trail, it becomes clear that there are still one or the other unexpected bend to be conquered. The first section between Chrummfadeflue and Homad leads through alpine and untouched terrain.
From the height of Chuelouene, the landscape changes subtly. Here and there we cross shorter wooded sections and cultivated alpine pastures. While at Äust a beautifully placed «drinks bench» invites you to give your legs a break, you can expect a lovingly designed broom bar with all kinds of homemade alpine products on the Upper Walalp.
A strengthening at the right time. From the high alpine basin of the Walalp we can see what is in store for us so shortly before our destination. But before we tackle the remaining vertical meters to the Stockhorn, I treat myself to a glass of Tannzirbeli syrup. By the way, the Bernese alpine cheese should also be excellent here, as an oncoming hiker assures us.
Steep final ascent to the Stockhorn
We are still missing 430 meters in altitude up to the summit of the Stockhorn. And these want to be overcome in the remaining 1.6 kilometers of hiking trails. With the goal in mind, conquering the vertical meters is easier, right? And so we shoulder our rucksacks and follow the mountain path up to Baachegg. From here the stairway begins, which leads over the «north face» of the Stockshorn to the ridge. The path is steep, but in good shape.
We reach the ridge faster than expected and from here we can enjoy the deep view of the Walalp and towards Oberstockensee. The effort was definitely worth it for this.
The “roughest” has been mastered at this point and 15 minutes later we can already see the Stockhorn panorama restaurant in front of us. If you still have energy left at this point, you can take the few additional meters in altitude to the summit or take the ground-level path through the “tunnel” to the panorama viewing platform. For us there is another impressive view of the north face from the summit, after which we sit on the sun terrace and share a fine plate – before we take the gondola down to the valley.
Practical tips for your high-altitude hike to the Stockhorn
The following map shows our route along the high-altitude hiking trail from the Gurnigel to the Stockhorn. The route is around 11 kilometers and includes an ascent of almost 1,000 meters in altitude, with the majority of these occurring at the two critical points of the Leiteren Pass and the Stockhorn North Face. We needed a little less than four hours for the tour – it is signposted with around 4.5 hours. The high-altitude hike leads over a mountain path of difficulty T2. There are no particularly steep or technically tricky passages and the tour can also be undertaken with sure-footed and physically fit children (I myself completed the tour together with my parents when I was around 10 years old). Since the meters in altitude are incurred in bits and pieces, you shouldn’t let yourself be deterred too much.
You reach the starting point of the hike by PostBus from Thurnen. This summer, the Stockhornbahn AG, together with BLS and PostBus, launched a new hiking ticket. This includes the Postbus ride from Thurnen Bahnhof – Gurnigel, Wasserscheide and the descent with the Stockhornbahn from Stockhorn to Erlenbach. The ticket costs 55.60 CHF for adults without a reduction (with Half-Fare travelcard 28.30). You benefit from one Price reduction of around 20% compared to the regular individual purchase of the tickets. Please note that the hiking ticket is only valid for the PostBus route 323 (departure at 8:35 a.m. in Thurnen). The ticket can be purchased via the BLS webshop until at least October 24, 2021. The journey by train to Thurnen or the return journey from Erlenbach is not included in the hiking ticket.
You can also enjoy a leisurely Zmörgälä on the Stockhorn. You can find more about this here: Stockhorn-Zmorgen – breakfast above the clouds
Key data of the tour Gurnigel – Leiterenpass – Stockhorn
|starting point||Postbus stop Gunigel, Wasserscheide (1,584 m above sea level)|
|reachability||Accessible by public transport|
|Altitude difference||↗ 1’008 m ↘ 460 m|
|Destination||Bergstation Stockhornbahn (2’190 m ü. M.)|
|Catering||Underi Walalp (self-service with Al products), Stockhorn panorama restaurant|